Conflict. Introverts avoid it, and we can be surprised to hear that Extroverts, generally, find conflict an engaging challenge.

The levels of stress experienced by the same event are one of the things that defines our personalities, leading us toward some activities and away from others. What one feels as stressful, another embraces.

We can hear it in the labels we apply and the adjectives we use around certain activities.

Last week I was having a conversation with an associate about a conversation she needed to have. “I am not good at conflict.” she stated.

As you can imagine, my next expression was a question:

How do you know this is conflict? How do you decide?

“I have a hard time with conflict, so I have been putting off this conversation.”

Let’s play with that sentence:

When you define the problem in the right light, it becomes an opportunity, remember?

What can we do to elevate this to something positive?

For what purpose is this conversation really? 

To correct a behaviour perhaps.

How will that person benefit when their behaviour changes?

Is that a result they would like? If not, what positive result will that result bring to them?

If you have noticed there is a problem, there is a good chance that the other party has as well. And they may be struggling too! So this conversation is going to alleviate their stress and help them feel better.

Collaborative problem-solving is a much more positive label than conflict resolution.

Conflict presupposes two parties at odds with one another.

If the truth is that you are part of the same company, team or project then you are both working for the same purpose.

So while in this particular task or behaviour you may be having some difficulties – that does not mean you are in conflict.

Silence can turn difficulty into conflict.

Preframe the conversation and build in those presuppositions.

Jane, I have noticed that we have been bumping up against each other in this decision and I don’t want to ignore it and have it get uncomfortable. Can we have a quick problem-solving conversation so we can get back on the same page?